Art Institute of Austin cuts Bastrop campus ribbon
The newly constructed building at 921 Main Street in downtown Bastrop not only represents a new hub of talent and creativity for the community, it also symbolizes the fruit of a long-standing collaboration between City Council, the center of economic development and the chamber of commerce.
In 2016, Kathryn Nash, chairman of the board of directors of the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation, wandered downtown and stopped at the vacant lot at 921 Main Street, which was shabby and closed. to the public, as city officials feared the building envelope had burned. in this batch 13 years earlier could collapse. But what Nash saw was an opportunity.
In 2016, the city council voted to sell the vacant land to the BEDC for $ 4. The city had purchased the vacant land in 2009 in order to expand the parking lot downtown.
And although economic companies generally do not construct buildings, BEDC took out the largest loan it has ever requested to construct a building on this land. And with the help of the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce, the company found a tenant – the Art Institute of Austin – to sign a 10-year lease for the building.
The institute moved into the two-story building in December 2020 – just after construction was completed – and held a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday afternoon.
“To have so much potential and joy around creativity and education is just great,” said Harvey Giblin, president of the institute.
The Art Institute has a main campus in Houston and two branches in San Antonio and Austin. The Austin branch moved from its Round Rock location in 2019 to Bastrop.
Giblin said Bastrop was a great place for students at the institute to “let their creativity run wild”.
“Bastrop is a creative community,” he said. “It’s a very close-knit community, it’s a pedestrian community. It’s a great place for our students to come in and meet other artists because they are all over here in Bastrop.
The campus currently has around 150 students and 20 instructors, and specializes in visual design, which includes film, photography, graphic design, and web design. She also offers interior design and fashion classes, and hopes to offer cooking classes in the future.
The building measures approximately 10,000 square feet and has four classrooms, two computer labs, a drawing room, and a conference room.
Student work adorns the walls of the building, including sketches of superheroes, animated pets, and abstract drawings.
One of the projects on display at the ceremony was created by Shelby Vaughan, a student at the institute. She transformed a doodle she drew when she was 9 of a horse into an animated graphic of a stallion watching a pink sunset.
Giblin said his goals for his students were “to thrive, to create and bring out the best in themselves, because they all come here with passion and dreams, be it filmmaking, animation. audio, fashion, whatever ”.
The school operated online from March 2020 to June. About two dozen students have worked on campus since then, and Giblin said he’s excited to get more students to start learning in person. Art, after all, is a very practical field.
“Just to get back to earth so to speak, and having that creative juice flowing when we’re all in the same space together is really great,” Giblin said.
Kornyan Bailey, the institute’s deputy enrollment officer, is an alumnus of the school. He graduated in 2019 after studying graphic design and web design, and said he was happy that the new campus had taken root in Bastrop.
“There is a lot of potential here,” Bailey said. “We are trying to put down roots here for the community and to have more opportunities. ”
He said the students plan to work on murals across the city.
Pierre Lafaille Jr., former student and dean of admissions at the institute, echoed similar sentiments.
“Bastrop loves the creative arts and the human being so much that there was no other palace for AI,” said Lafaille. “We’re really looking to become more of a college-type presence inside a city, rather than being inside a corporate building.
“And for the students, I feel that they will feed on this energy that Bastrop naturally gives to the creatives”, he added.
Nash, the president of BEDC, praised the institute for inspiring students to tap into their creativity.
“What you’re doing is amazing: getting these kids to use their heads and their hands, to be creative, to use digital tools, to manipulate materials,” she said. “What this allows them to create their own agency, to strengthen this concrete confidence.
“It’s an interactive process, and that’s what I want to hire. I want to hire people who want to take risks. I want to hire people who can do things, not just know things. “